Learn how to compost (and dispose of your BITS postbag forever) thanks to our good friend Cassie from Sustainable Table.
Who are you?
Hi there, my name is Cassie Duncan, and I am the co-founder and General Manager of Sustainable Table, a Melbourne-based environmental not-for-profit that uses food as an entrée to spark people’s environmental awareness and sustainable habits.
What’s Sustainable Table all about?
With up to 60% of our personal eco-footprint embodied in the food that we buy, I believe it has never been more important to educate ourselves and our children on where our food comes from.
At Sustainable Table we encourage people to use their shopping dollar to vote for the type of world they’d like to be a part of. This call-to-action isn’t exclusive to your weekly food shop; and that’s why I was excited to learn about BITS and their emerging sustainability ethos and approach.
As an advocate for sustainability, we know you are passionate about composting. We’re sending product orders out in compostable BITS postbags, but we’re new to composting. It sounds HARD. Is it?
Composting is super easy! Like forming any new habit, the hardest part is starting. So if I can impart one piece of advice it is to start composting, stat!
Ok great, so how do we get started?
We have a nifty little 5-step blog post over at Sustainable Table that guides you through what you need to do to get set up, but the crux of it is this:
1. Decide which compost solution suits you At our place, our compost bin had to be on brick in a small courtyard, so I researched and chose a system that didn’t need to sit on soil and landed on the Aerobin. The appeal was also that it didn’t need turning, which is the process of getting your fork or shovel out to aerate the compost pile.
I simply pop my food scraps and brown matter, such as unbleached paper bags, into a bucket and empty it into the compost bin as needed. There are so many compost bins on the market, like tumblers (also good for concrete spaces) or the more traditional varieties. If you don’t have much yard but do have a little bit of soil, the Green Cone could be good as it doesn’t need emptying. You may also like to consider a worm farm (worm wee is liquid gold for food growing).
2. Consider what you’ll do with your compost once it’s ready This will only happen every 4-6-ish months, or never if your bin is large enough and keeps breaking down
3. Get your materials together Such as a shovel, small indoor pail for collecting food scraps, carbon material (the brown stuff) and nitrogen material (the green stuff).
4. Get the carbon/nitrogen ratio right Loosely a ratio of 1/3 green (nitrogen) to 2/3 brown (carbon) material
5. Turn your compost pile once in a while Unless you have purchased a compost bin that doesn’t need turning, you will likely need to pop your shovel in and giving it a little turn once in a while to aerate your heap, no biggie.
BRB, heading to Bunnings now. Seriously though, once we’re setup, what can go in the compost?
There are so many things you can compost that you may not realise you can, here’s a little list to make you go wow.
BITS postbags (cool huh), food scraps, leftovers (excluding meat), pet and human hair, vacuum dust, coffee grounds, old flowers, eggshells, nuts and nut shells, unbleached paper bags, ripped up organic cotton/natural fibre cloths or clothes, beeswax wraps… the list goes on!
I’m in an apartment. Can I still compost?
You sure can. There is a wonderful website called ShareWaste which encourages people and community groups to list their compost bin to encourage their neighbours to drop of their scraps. You simply type in your address and see if any of your neighbours are accepting compost, voilà!
If that doesn’t appeal, you could explore a balcony worm farm or smaller compost system. Or if you have a communal area that gets good sun, you could always suggest a collective compost area with your body corporate. Once again, something like an Aerobin may work best because it doesn’t need turning and can rest on concrete or brick. It may mean you need to take a bit of ownership over it for a while, however, the improvement in waste reduction and gorgeous nutrients that can be turned back into the garden will be worth it.
Why is composting so important?
Over the past 5 years I have been working bit by bit to reduce our family’s waste. I was inspired after being horrified by stats and footage of a world being choked by single-use plastic. As a family of 4 (plus hound) we now only need to put our landfill bin out every few months. And do you know what made the most significant difference? COMPOSTING!
In Australia, 8.2 million tonnes of food waste is generated each year, most of which ends up in landfill. That equates to around 50% of the rubbish that Australians put in their rubbish bins… 50%!
In the oxygen-starved environment of landfill, this buried waste produces methane, a gas which has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide… So, for every tonne of food diverted from landfill, almost a tonne of greenhouse gas is prevented from entering the atmosphere, not to mention all the nutrients that are saved and returned to our earth to help our collective gardens grow.
What’s your #1 choice for sustainable bits?
It’s probably no surprise I’m a MASSIVE advocate for menstrual cups.
I came to the period cup party late. I’d never really heard of or researched any alternative to what I had been exposed to through my own family. I happened upon this glorious solution when trying to curb my waste. I was trying to fit all of my landfill waste for the month into a glass jar, and quickly decided that my period waste could NOT go in there!
I toddled off in search of a reusable alternative and came across the menstrual cup. I had already birthed one child, so the box suggested I get the ‘larger’ cup. This was the first confrontation of ‘the cup’ – no-one likes the connotation of having an oversized vagina, even if the packaging maybe did have a post-vaginal-birth point!
Now, I’m not going to lie, the first attempt to use my cup was confronting, I felt like I needed Dolly Doctor holding my hand through life’s sexual and bodily mysteries all over again. You have to get up close and personal with yourself in a way you may-or-may-not be used to. Instructional videos do help (there are plenty of them), and there are different techniques for folding and inserting the cup. I beg you, please persist…. It really is worth it, and you do get into a groove quicker than you may think. 7-years on and it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
My absolute favourite thing about the cup is that I am never caught out. I was the type of tampon-user who was always running on empty and having to come up with makeshift pads until I could make it to the shops. I’m also a heavy flow kinda gal, so do have to empty my cup more often than most on my worst days. Having said that, having a period cup has given me incredible visibility of just how heavy my flow is, and has empowered me to seek help with this – another stigma that the menstrual cup helps us to tear down.
Websites talk about normal flow in terms of millilitres, but anyone using absorbent products has no blooming idea. The cup has taken so much anxiety out of having my period, I leak way less and almost forget I have my cup in on lighter days. Travelling, camping and hiking is way easier and sterilising it is a cinch. My children know about my cup and see me using it (because what even is privacy when you have kids) and I am grateful that their world will be one where bleeding, periods and zero-waste living is normalised.
Side note, I am also thrilled that BITS is catering for big-busted women because I have experienced an age-old struggle trying to find a bra to house my bits, that doesn’t look like something Granny dragged from out the back of her closet, hurrah!